In the Bronx, a Complex Picture of Domestic Violence

Across the Bronx, unemployment rates are very closely correlated with reported incidences of domestic violence

By Brianna McGurran

This month the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence will open its fourth Family Justice Center at 80 Centre St. in Manhattan. Through partnerships with government agencies and social service organizations, the Family Justice Centers offer survivors of domestic violence counseling, legal advice and financial coaching in a single location.

These resources are sorely needed, advocates say. The number of female homicide victims in New York State killed by an intimate partner rose 14 percent between 2011 and 2012, from 44 percent to 58 percent, according to the Department of Criminal Justice Statistics.

So what accounts for this increase?

Some experts say economics play a big role. In a 2009 study by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, 73 percent of domestic violence shelters said they had seen an increase in abuse because of financial issues at home.

After the recession began in 2008, higher unemployment rates and home foreclosures also made it more difficult for victims to save money to leave their abusers, said Erika Sussman, director of the Center for Survivor Agency and Justice in Washington, D.C.

“They have fewer resources so can’t engage in certain strategies: gathering up the money to relocate, gathering money to buy a new car,” she said. “It created a much more daunting picture in terms of their ability to find safety.”

The Bronx had the highest average unemployment in New York City in 2012. Let’s see if unemployment and domestic violence rates are related in each neighborhood.

Across the borough, unemployment rates are very closely correlated with reported incidences of domestic violence. East Tremont and Morrisania had the highest and second-highest number of domestic violence-related calls to the NYPD, respectively, and are tied for highest unemployment rate, at 21 percent. One notable exception is Unionport/Soundview, which had a mid-range number of calls but the lowest unemployment rate.

It is important to remember that a large number of domestic violence cases are never reported. These statistics only show those incidences that are brought to the attention of the NYPD. So neighborhoods with a lower number of calls to the NYPD don’t necessarily have lower rates of domestic violence overall.